VISCERAL: THE SURREAL ART OF VICTOR WHITMILL
November 23 – December 16
ARTIST RECEPTION: Friday, November 23, 5 – 8 PM
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 – 5 PM
VICTOR WHITMALL’S SURREAL PAINTINGS PROVOKE THE SENSES IN DEFYING EXHIBITION FOR DOWNTOWN SANTA FE.
Santa Fe, NM (October 15, 2018): In Victor Whitmill’s surreal and fantastical artworks, unidentifiable creatures transform into industrial landscapes, or skeletal female figures expose sinuous muscle beneath elongated forms. The New Mexico artist twists and manipulates familiar imagery in compositions that blend realism and abstraction while juxtaposing the recognizable with the unknown. Inexplicable narratives push past rational thought or intellectual interpretation, stirring the viewer’s emotions with terrorizing yet enchanting visuals. “VISCERAL” opens November 23rd as Whitmill’s Santa Fe debut and first solo exhibition at KEEP Contemporary. This career spanning show features works from 2005 to the present including early airbrush paintings, recent oil paintings and pencil drawings.
“Often when viewing art, we instinctively react on an emotional level but then we quickly want to rationalize or understand on an intellectual level,” says Whitmill. “I’m really fond of lingering in that moment prior to rationalizing everything. I think that’s my favorite aspect of viewing and creating art.” Whitmill relishes the mysterious; fantasy art, sci-fi movies and utopic stories have fascinated him since childhood. When it comes to his artistic direction, anything that awakens the imagination and stimulates explorative pursuits motivates Whitmill’s creativity. Through his beautifully grotesque paintings, he encourages a temporary release on reality and raises disoriented questions rather than offer logical answers. As a result, our minds wander through Whitmill’s unworldly realms in delightful confusion. “I have no intentions of bringing anyone to a particular conclusion,” says the artist. “Artwork that moves me the most is the kind that leaves me hanging or wondering. When I share a painting, I hope it puts the viewer in a similar mind set.”
While his subject matter is free flowing, Whitmill’s technique is tightly rendered and shows meticulous skill. Apart from intermittent life drawing classes and painting workshops, Whitmill is largely self- taught and has been a working artist since he was twenty-five years old. During that time he ran a tattoo business for more than twenty years before returning to his early passions for painting.Born in California, Whitmill has lived all over the country but ultimately found desert life appealing after stints in Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona. He now lives and works in Las Cruces, New Mexico, drawn to its harsh natural landscape.
KEEP Contemporary is one of Santa Fe’s newest and most unconventional art spaces bringing fresh energy to the local art scene. Owner Jared Antonio-Justo Trujillo is an artist and Santa Fe native who saw a niche that needed to be filled, inspiring him to create a platform for “new contemporary art.” “I opened the gallery with the whole idea of giving voice to artists who don’t have one in a conservative art market,” says Trujillo, who now represents over 40 painters and sculptors. KEEP recently increased its presence in Santa Fe’s contemporary art market by moving to a larger gallery space on Lincoln Avenue in the heart of downtown Santa Fe.
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